Entangled Flight by Virginia Hughes

A flash of feathers in rapid succession catches my eye from the kitchen window. A mourning dove is flailing in the crabapple tree. 

I approach cautiously speaking just above a whisper, "It's all right, let me see," reaching around the bird's back to gently hold it. Both legs are caught fast in kite string. A wide web of string is forming from the bird's wild thrashing in the branches. Once it quiets, freeing it may begin.

My husband finds the smallest pair of scissors, and we commence the delicate process of cutting and unwinding string off the impossibly skinny legs of the bird. Snip, snip, I shakily avoid its slender legs, the tender feet. We pray it doesn't die of fright or make a sudden movement and suffer more in our hands. 

Once freed, I set it gently on a branch. It grips with one good set of tiny talons, the other claw misshapen, unable to clasp around the branch. The wounded claw hangs awkwardly in the air as the dove balances on one leg like a flamingo.

The nature center’s oft repeated lecture about leaving wild things alone echoes in my mind. I remember my children on these nature center field trips watching caregivers feed baby squirrels, fledglings and bunnies with an eye dropper. A stern lecture always followed about leaving wild creatures in their place. 

Once we brought a broken bird to the nature center, hit by a car in front of our home. We sat through a reprimand for touching it, and learned the bird was not surviving, and should have been left to die. My young daughters burst into tears. Cruel world. I reassured them that the wounded bird should not have been left wobbling dazedly, dodging cars in a macabre street theater, with youngsters as the audience, front and center.

Today's bird in front of me needs more help. Will the nature center fashion a tiny splint for that ruined claw after lecturing me, of course, maybe provide a bird sized grain of pain med? 

How does that string become part of a bird? Perhaps while nesting, going about her birdly mom duties, she pecks a wad of string, never suspecting it to take on a life of its own, ensnaring and nearly ending hers.

The bird pulls up her gimp leg, slowly raising and lowering both wings, gripping with one claw, wide-eyed and blinking. Up to a higher branch she flies. Adapting and balancing on the one leg again, she eyes me cautiously, lifts off the branch and flies swiftly away. She is freed yet marked by the battle with the string.

I am the mother bird with many good intentions, in over my head with lots of strings attached. Such is the nature of birds and other mothers. Daily I pray for wisdom for my daughters living in a broken world. In physics, entangled means to cause the quantum states of two or more objects to become correlated in such a way that they remain correlated, even though the objects are separated spatially. There is math to back up the existence of the heart strings that I feel though they seem to stretch very thin at times.

 I quiet myself in God's presence, worship begins and God begins to free me of all but his goodness, which like a fetter binds my wandering heart to him. I am freed, yet marked by my battle with the string. May I forever embrace my entangled flight. 

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for they courts above.